Chelsea, my favorite place in London. UK.

MySlowTrip - Lukas Chelsea Football Club Stamford Bridge

First to the most important “minor matter” in the world: football. Better: British football. Premier League, the best in the world. Since the beginning of the 90s, I have been a Chelsea Football Club supporter. Long before the Russian Oligarch Mr Abramovitsch took over in 2004 and led the Club to new heights.

Nowadays, the “Blues” (according to the club colors) are one of the absolute top teams in the world, having won the Champions League in 2021 (for the second time after 2012).

The “ground” (=stadium) is unique: it is nestled in the middle of a densely populated area (actually it is situated in Fulham), right next to a tiny railway bridge which gives it the name “Stamford Bridge”. The crowd is fantastic. When 42.000 people intone the Blues anthem “Blue is the color, football is the game…” one gets a real goosebump feeling.

Here a funny story: The fantastic Whole Foods grocery store (owned by Amazon) across the street from the stadium does not allow to sell alcohol during Chelsea FC home matches. In the pubs nearby – which are strictly separated into home and away supporters pubs – you can certainly warm up to the match with your mates having a few pints, as you can do even within the stadium!

Right next to “The Bridge” (as the stadium is nicknamed) there lies Brompton Cemetery with its extensive grounds. It has something of a strange, morbid feeling. Around 200,000 people found their last rest here over the past two centuries. This historic site attracts joggers, tourists as well as beer drinking football fans on matchdays, which gives it a somehow odd atmosphere.

This is a very typical London upper-class residential area. With beautiful brick-facade buildings around comunal gardens. This is London as best as you can get.

Why Chelsea FC ? First of all, London is my favorite City besides my home town Vienna. For me this megacity with its vast area is still an accumulation of small villages with their main streets and local infrastructure. Chelsea, Kensington, Notting Hill, Hampstead, to name but a few.

When I worked in the City of London as an investment banker in the nineties, I lived in the heart of Chelsea on Fulham Road, just a 15 minutes walk from “The Bridge”. I completely fell in love with the area. It offered for a twenty something year old boy from good old Vienna everything he could dream of.

And dreaming I was, when I strolled along the streets in my close neighborhood. I was overwhelmed and yet inspired by these huge mansions in one of the most expensive residential areas of Europe.

Who lived there? How did these people get there to afford these multi million pounds places?

I am fascinated by extremes. In Chelsea, You find these small residential streets, with brick façade houses and their immaculate front gardens.

Then You find a small church surrounded by a manicured English lawn. Wandering these areas I often felt as being in a small village in rural England.

Then, all of a sudden you step out of these backstreets into the bustling main streets such as the world famous Kings Road. It is vibrant with restaurants, cafés, shops, pubs, everything you could think of. All top world class, including the fancy cars passing by. Come here at the Sloane Square end on a Saturday for people watching. Here I feel as if I am in the centre of the globe.

Here was the epicenter of the London swinging 60s as well as the Punk revolution. Vivienne Westwood’s famous World’s End shop, the clock of which runs counterclockwise, is still today a testimonial of those times. She was married to Malcolm McLaren, founder of the Sex Pistols.

The Bibendum is a culinary monument. The former Michelin garage was turned into a food temple by Sir Terence Conran, the great British designer. It now hosts a two star Michelin restaurant as well as an oyster bar and Brasserie.

The legendary British Chef Gordon Ramsay has his flagship Three Star Michelin dining Mekka (one of only a handful in London) in Royal Hospital Road. I was there. It turned my caution vis-a-vis lamb completely around. Another memorable experience was the service: I have been to many top places, but here it was as good as it gets. Absolute perfection.

Chelsea Physic Garden is a hidden gem: This walled garden of 4 acres was founded in 1673 by the Apothecaries. They took advantage of its microclimate, the special soil as well as the adjacent River Thames to grow a wide variety of medical plants. It became quickly worldwide known through the global seed exchange scheme (Index Seminum) which continues to this day. There is also Great Britain’s largest fruiting olive tree.

This is my personal Chelsea in London. A place I always feel like coming home.